Ralf Rangnick says Cristiano Ronaldo will return for what the Manchester United interim manager admits is a must-win match against Tottenham in the top-four race.

This has been another difficult week around Old Trafford after Premier League leaders Manchester City dished out a humbling 4-1 derby defeat at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday – a match Ronaldo missed through injury.

United started well enough against their neighbours only to fall away embarrassingly in a meek second-half display, which has led to external criticism and plenty of introspection.

The loss leaves the fifth-placed Red Devils a point behind Arsenal – who have three games in hand – in the final Champions League berth, heightening the importance of seventh-placed Spurs’ trip to Old Trafford on Saturday evening.

“We are fully aware about the importance of tomorrow’s game and at the same time the game on Tuesday (against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League),” Rangnick said

“The most important game is the game tomorrow against Tottenham. We have to win that game. We are fully aware of that.

Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo are available again (John Walton/PA)

“We had a good week of training, the players are also fully aware about the importance of the game.

“The focus is there, the togetherness was there in the training sessions.”

The commitment of United’s players was questioned in the wake of the City loss, as well as togetherness on and off the field.

Star man Ronaldo’s decision to reportedly fly back to Portugal after suffering a hip flexor issue rather than stay in Manchester to support his team-mates underlined that as a potential issue, but Rangnick downplayed it.

“Well, I don’t know, I haven’t asked him if he’s happy at Manchester and at this club,” Rangnick said.

“For me, it’s important that he’s fit again and that he resumed training yesterday.

Cristiano RonaldoManchester United were without Cristiano Ronaldo for the derby defeat to City (Martin Rickett/PA)

“We will see with which formation and with which line-up we are going to play the game tomorrow.”

Asked to clarify whether he and the club were aware of Ronaldo reportedly going to Portugal, the interim boss said: “No, because it doesn’t make sense to look back on what was happening in the last six or seven days.

“For me, it’s important what is happening today and tomorrow. For me, it doesn’t make sense at all to go through all this again.

“(What’s) important is that he and Edi (Cavani) are both back in training and they’re both available for tomorrow.”

Ronaldo and Cavani’s return will be a boost to United’s blunt frontline, while at the back they will be able to call upon Raphael Varane after he missed the City clash with Covid-19.

Luke Shaw remains absent as he was still testing positive for Covid as of Thursday while Scott McTominay is a major doubt for Tottenham’s visit.

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw (left) and Scott McTominayManchester United’s Luke Shaw (left) and Scott McTominay are both set to miss out again (Mike Egerton/PA)

“With regard to players, we will still miss out on Luke Shaw,” Rangnick added.

“Scotty is a question mark. He had some problems with his calf so we have to wait and see until today after training.

“But right now I think it’s more likely he will not be available because if we risk him tomorrow he will more likely be out for the game on Tuesday again.

“That’s why I tend with some muscular issues, even more so if it’s the calf muscle, to be careful.”